Passing Offense - A
His completion percentage was just 58%, but Michael Penix threw for 485 yards and 3 touchdowns to absolutely obliterate what was the top ranked defense in the Pac-12. After a couple misfires early, he ended with a staggering 11.5 yards per drop back. Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze each had long touchdowns to put them over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. Ja’Lynn Polk has finished the season strong and his 26-yard touchdown opened the scoring for the Huskies. It was the pass game as usual that lead the way for an offense that finished with 700+ yards and 51 points. It’s incredible to put together those kinds of numbers considering they:
-Punted on their first possession for only the second time all season
-Threw a red zone interception
-Lost a fumble
-Missed an extra point
The offensive line deserves a shoutout for doing a masterful job against an active WSU front seven, who finished the game with exactly zero sacks and zero tackles for loss. They were a large reason the Huskies were an incredible 11/13 on third downs.
Rushing Offense - A-
As has been the case for this season, the run game took a backseat to the pass, but was an effective compliment. Cam Davis’ fumble was unfortunate but he otherwise played well, averaging over 9 yards per carry. Ultimately however, the story was Wayne Taulapapa and his career best 126 yard night. His 40-yard touchdown run late iced the game and he powered the Husky run game to a 99th percentile EPA/rush performance.
Lastly, since the throwback to Michael Penix ended up counting as a 30 touchdown run and not a reception, it goes here. What an awesome play to have in his potentially final regular season game for UW.
Rushing Defense - A-
Nakia Watson got loose for WSU a few times, but for the most part UW was strong against the run. The two primary running backs Watson and Jaylen Jenkins finished with a solid 19 carries for 83 yards and one touchdown. But, the overall run game was not very effective for WSU, as 54% of their runs went for less than 2 yards and their EPA/rush numbers were in the 38th percentile. Alex Cook and Alphonso Tuputala were particularly physical defending the run game.
Passing Defense - B
Bralen Trice was the definition of un-block-able. He finished with only one sack but was credited with 15 QB pressures and was constantly moving Cameron Ward off his spot. Ward is slippery and they struggled wrapping up in the first half, but were able to take him down 6 times when it was all said and done. Ward passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns, but just 6.2 yards per attempt, compared to Penix’s 11.3.
WSU’s was 4/4 on fourth downs in the first half, one of which went for a touchdown. It at times felt like the secondary could not make a play on the ball and that every pass was destined to be completed, though Dom Hampton did have a nice pass break up. Luckily for the Huskies, Ward had a few errant throws throughout the game.
Special Teams - B
It’s never a good look to get beat on a fake punt, but it happens. Other than that, special teams was fine. Peyton Henry was 6/7 on extra points, but hit his lone field goal attempt. Giles Jackson is doing okay at kick off returns, but it feels like that could still improve. Washington only punted once, and Jack McCallister put it inside the 20-yard line.
Coaching - A
Michael Penix’s interception came in a critical point in the game, with the Huskies clinging to a 35-33 lead. But the defense quickly forced a three-and-out, and Penix led the Huskies on a scoring drive which included a 41-yard strike to Ja’Lynn Polk. The players deserve enormous credit, of course, but the coaches certainly have a hand in the team playing confident and focused football. This team seems to get stronger as the games go on and outscored WSU 16 to zero in the fourth quarter. Consider the defensive performance in the second half as well: holding WSU to 6 points, 129 total yards, and 6 sacks.
This was a game where it felt like the Huskies had to not panic, and by simply staying the course, they would come out ahead. Washington State threw every punch they had at Washington, especially in the first half, and the Huskies absorbed the pressure. They responded to the WSU fake punt touchdown drive with a touchdown of their own. This team has shown a resilience all season and it’s remarkable how quickly the coaches have instilled that culture and let players like Michael Penix lead this team.
Can’t believe I’m about to say this but, Fight On USC and send us to the Rose Bowl!